Excited to share, yesterday a post of mine was one of the 9 featured by Instagram as part of their Weekend Hashtag Project. Over 35K images were submitted. With close to 200 comments on the post, the response has been overwhelming. The theme for this WHP was texture and my photo below (center) is of local artist and activist Adrienne Wade. It's part of a new series about hair that I'm working on. Specifically, I'm looking into the issue of naturally curly or kinky hair and why so many of us have been told at some point that our hair's natural state is inappropriate, or unprofessional, or unattractive, etc.
I've been collecting photos of women with natural 'textured' hair for a project in the works. This woman (artist and activist @habitual_human ) was gracious enough to let me take this photo when I ambushed her at an art exhibit. The more I look into the issue of 'natural vs unnatural' hair, the more I've learned how universal it is. It can have strong links to identity, social status, and perceived beauty standards. The history of straightening 'kinky' hair and the personal stories I've come across have been fascinating, heartbreaking, and often infuriating. I've read accounts from black women, Latinas, and women of mixed backgrounds. Still, I wasn't quite prepared for my own mother's reaction to seeing me for the first time in 19 years. We had a scheduled call via Skype and I had just biked home wearing a helmet so my hair was up in a bun. "Let me see your hair" she said, so I took out the hair tie that was wrestling back the giant curly beast. "You like it like that?" Clearly, after a 19 year absence there are a lot of things to talk about other than the state of my hair. But I'd be lying if I said I was completely shocked. All of the women with curly hair in my Middle Eastern family straighten their hair, even I did when I was in highschool and emulated everything my older sisters did. Straight hair is seen as 'good hair'. It wasn't until years later that I realized my naturally curly hair was nothing I needed to hide or change. To those of you out there who know what I'm talking about and have stories of your own to share, I'd love to hear from you, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. New edit on August 19 : use #TextureYD to share pics and stories, I'll assume you consent to my using any pics or stories tagged with #TextureYD . Thanks and I hope to hear from you. #WHPtexture #naturalhair